Friday afternoon in my Local Church Committee we came across three interesting petitions. The topic was how the annual conference should deal with the assets of a local church that had closed.
The petitions came from GCF&A, GBOD and UMRA. Oh, wait, I forget that you, my dear reader, have not been immersed in United Methodist jargon for the better part of the week. Make that General Council on Finance and Administration, General Board of Discipleship and United Methodist Rural Advocates. So these three groups each submitted petitions that were largely identical, each with a sentence or two of their own that tweaked an area of particular interest.
Each group had a representative there to speak to our committee and answer any questions. The committee had no serious reservations about any of the three. Normally we would choose one of the three to support, bring in the best parts of the others.
But instead we asked the three of them to work it out. Leaders of the three groups, along with an overachiever from the committee, sat down and co-authored an amendment to one of the petitions that incorporated the key points of all three. That moment is preserved in the photo above.
It passed unanimously.
But in my mind it raised an interesting question: Why hadn’t these three groups come together before today? This material was released months ago. Surely they had seen each other’s petitions. At least two of the three have very professional staff members with offices in Nashville.
Maybe they didn’t because it’s easier not to. Maybe they’re concerned about turf. Maybe we’re just not as connectional as we like to think we are.
But what happened today is a good thing, and all three will, I expect, be happy by the time General Conference winds up in a week or so, at least on this topic.
I hope the rest of the General Church pays attention.